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'Little Free Pantry' project is growing in Tucson

Neighbors helping neighbors during tough times
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Posted at 6:33 AM, Apr 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 15:04:32-04

TUCSON, Ariz.(KGUN) — “It's been working really great. We were approached by this young man named Luke Katsel and his mom Julie who works at the University of Arizona about installing 3 little free libraries in our neighborhood,”

That’s what Rose Veneklasen is saying about a small pantry she installed in her community and it was all for Luke's Eagle Scout project. It might look like a typical drop box, but if you look a little closer there’s something extra special inside. Veneklasen has been running a little free library on her property since the summer of 2019.

The pandemic brought on a needed change and the "Little Free Library" in Veneklasen’s Rincon Heights Neighborhood instantly became a "Little Free Pantry". Now people from around the area can take what they need and leave what they can at the warren avenue box to share the spirit of giving during these tough times.

“I don’t really know how many different people are using it but I know there’s a need out there. I check it and stock it 2 or 3 times per week and I'm constantly needing to put new things in there so I know it's being used frequently. I drive around and collect food from different people from around town," Veneklasen said.

According to feedingamerica.org so far this year at least 42 million Americans, including 13 million kids may be experiencing food insecurity. Another 4 million are seeing food insecurity at extreme levels. That has Veneklasen and others in her community doing everything they possibly can to help.

"The more the better it’s a great way to give back to the community. It's my little way to help out, I encourage people to get out there and do it. My intention is to go back to a library at some point or maybe have both a library and pantry to help the community,” Veneklasen said.

No matter the size of the need, the "Little Free Pantry" is making a big difference one donation at a time. Non-perishable food and hygiene items are always needed. There are at least 5 little food pantry projects in the Tucson area.

Click here to learn how to start a food pantry of your own.

For more information on Feeding America, click here.